Watching the pure unabashed joy of other people unfold in real life makes it almost ok that everything didn’t come up roses for the USA in Olympic Eventing this week.
Have you ever heard the whispering sound of 20 thousand or so camera shutters clicking in unison? I heard it every time a British horse and rider left the ground during stadium jumping–a synchronized hush that swept around the Olympic stadium like a wave. Even with some other guy named Michael winning gold medals near a swimming pool yesterday, equestrian enjoyed amazing attendance numbers in the Greenwich Park Olympic Stadium.
The roars were deafening, the bleachers were shaking, and I was at an equestrian event, not a football game! I might not remember the US medaling at these Olympics, but I will sure remember that.
It was impossible not to get caught up in it, and the best man definitely won. John has already analyzed Michael Jung’s ride eight ways to Sunday so I’m not going to rehash the details, but I can tell you that in my travels around the park over the past week, every time I looked up, it seemed that I spotted Michael. And every time I saw him, he had the same exact look on his face. Whether he was walking the cross-country course (in his tracksuit, always,) sitting in a press conference, or just passing by, he wore an easy half smile on his face and had a calm look in his eyes. Ladies and gentlemen, I think this is how the Germans define perfect focus. And Michael’s look did not waver one iota until he passed through the stadium jumping finish timers yesterday.
Yeah, I got this.
Which brings me to the fist pump. You eventers were one step away from an end zone dance with all the fist pumping that was going on after riders’ completed their courses. I mean, I get it, you’ve just completed an equine triathlon and come out the other side in one piece. It was actually pretty awesome, and I think that somehow, we need to get the fist pump memo out to the show jumpers and dressage riders. They’ll get happy after a good round of jumping or a particularly fab dressage test from time to time, but there is a definite lack of grandstanding exuberant, ring lapping, fist pumping after a memorable round in the other equestrian disciplines. The Colbert Report has already done wonders for the profile of dressage; just think what a boost it would get if those riders unleashed a fist pump victory gallop after their Freestyle test. Jan Ebeling, I’m looking at you.
I was slightly transfixed watching the British people be transfixed by the Royal family, who showed up en masse to cheer on Zara Phillips (who was not shy with the fist pumping herself.) They sat in the stands below and to the left of me, which more than giving me a view of them, gave me a view of everyone else watching them.
Even though the most high profile eventing competition in four years was unfolding in the stadium, the Royals were still the target of many high powered cameras that were trained on them every single second.
Um, guys, the arena’s the other way.
However, when in Rome…..
I know, that picture is barely passable. But I took it myself with a camera and it’s proof that I saw William, Kate and Harry – or at least the tops of their heads! You can see the good photos of them in the stands (the products of the gentlemen in the previous photo, no doubt) on Prince Harry’s facebook page. And yes, of course he has one. I like that he wasn’t worried about his 131,000 facebook friends, or nationwide population of Royal-obsessed followers as he sat in the bleachers during both rounds of stadium jumping, just like a regular person. Unfortunately I was not in his line of sight – this time. Here’s hoping he comes to watch the show jumping. . . . OK, I’ll stop.
Harry is cute and all, but there was another guy in his early 20s who caught my eye over the weekend. Am I late to the party or has no one realized that a 19 year old horse just completed the Olympics, and medaled for New Zealand?? Caroline Powell’s Lenamore was incredible all weekend. Early yesterday morning, when many of the horses at the jog were standing around looking bushwacked from their cross country run the day before, Lenamore was so fresh he dragged Caroline away from the end of the jog, with his groom joining the chase to rescue them both. Whatever Lenamore is eating, my horse wants some.
There’s more that happened of course, but this is only one article. In the end, it’s all about our horses, treating them like the superstars they are, and appreciating them for a job well done. Yesterday I posted a photo of Jessica Phoenix hugging her horse after she completed her individual round of stadium. She hugged Tucker, she hugged David, she basically stood there just looking grateful. That photo, which instantly went everywhere on Facebook, proves that at the end of the day we’re all in agreement – the bond between horse and rider is what it’s all about.